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‘Absolutely unacceptable': L.A. mayor launches campaign to crack down on transit crime

“I directed an immediate surge of law enforcement personnel on Metro buses and rail cars and stations,” said Mayor Karen Bass

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In the interim, officials have ramped up the presence of both transit security officers and law enforcement on L.A. Metro buses and trains, a plan that started Wednesday, May 16, to address the recent violence Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Thursday, May 16, called “absolutely unaccepta

By Hunter Lee
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, West Covina, Calif.

LOS ANGELES — Facial-recognition technology. Weapon-detection systems like at sporting events and airports. More cops.

Barriers at stations. Suspending or banning offenders from buses and trains. Plastic glass to partition off bus drivers.

These are all under consideration by transportation officials, or been approved, in an attempt to curb a recent wave of headline-grabbing violence along the county’s public-transit system.

In the interim, officials have ramped up the presence of both transit security officers and law enforcement on L.A. Metro buses and trains, a plan that started Wednesday, May 16, to address the recent violence Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Thursday, May 16, called “absolutely unacceptable.”

“I directed an immediate surge of law enforcement personnel on Metro buses and rail cars and stations,” said Bass, who is chairwoman of Metro’s board.

Dave Sotero, a L.A. Metro spokesman, said security personnel are identifying “non-destination travelers” on trains and removing them. Drug abuse and poor mental health, he added, “fuel many of the attacks on transit nationwide.”

Lorraine Grey, a 38-year-old Long Beach resident, regularly makes the hour-long commute along the A (Blue) Line railway to her marketing job in downtown Los Angeles.

“There’s always the chance to see some weird behavior on the Metro (railway),” she said after returning a recent evening to a Long Beach station. “The morning ride is usually fine, maybe someone sleeping, and I’m on my ride home when there’s plenty of people still around.

“But if I’m working late or going out with some friends downtown, I will ask for a ride home or take an Uber,” she said. “I’ve never really had an issue going home but I’m not willing to take any risks and better safe than sorry.”

Warren Porter, 44, regularly rides a somewhat similar route, except to Pasadena where he works as an engineer. He lives in Long Beach in part because of the A Line; he doesn’t want a car.

“It’s horrible to see people getting maimed and killed just for trying to get somewhere,” he said.

Porter has seen fights and also homeless people sleeping at Metro stations, sometimes openly doing drugs.

“I can’t fault these people, though,” he said. “Some people have just been dealt a worse hand than others.”

Some of the crimes on Metro that have made headlines this year:

Arrests were made in some of the attacks.

“We have a responsibility to every single one of our riders, to make Metro safe,” Janice Hahn , who like all of the other county supervisors is a L.A. Metro board member, said in a statement. “This is also important for our bus operators and other Metro employees who should be able to do their jobs without fear of being harmed.”

Said Supervisor Lindsey Horvath: “This is unacceptable. We need safety personnel on every Metro bus and rail line to keep our riders safe.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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